World’s forests essential to life - IUCN

24 January 2011 | News story

More resources should be dedicated to protecting our invaluable forest wealth and to restoring degraded forest landscapes, according to IUCN.

The world’s biggest environmental union will use the International Year of Forests to make sure the global community understands the real value of forests.

“The air we breathe, the food, water and medicines we need to survive, the variety of life on earth, the climate that shapes our present and future - they all depend on forests. 2011 must be the year when the world recognizes the vital importance of healthy forests to life on earth and the central role people play in protecting these forests and using their resources sustainably,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General.

Forests maintain a stable global climate and should be central to efforts to deal with climate change, according to IUCN. “Forests offer the quickest, most cost effective and largest means of curbing global emissions,” says Stewart Maginnis, IUCN Director of Environment and Development. “Halving forest-based emissions between now and 2020 could provide up to 40% of necessary greenhouse gas reductions for the next decade.”

Forests make significant contributions to economic growth both at national and global level. Around a quarter of the income of forest-dependent communities comes from the goods and services that forests provide. IUCN’s latest findings estimate that locally-controlled forestry yields US$ 130 billion in benefits for the poor each year.

“People everywhere suffer from or miss out on livelihood and wellbeing opportunities due to lost and degraded forest lands,” says Carole Saint-Laurent, IUCN Senior Forest Policy Advisor. “We are talking about taking forest landscapes that are not doing anything for anybody, or not doing enough, and producing something of value through restoration,” adds Saint Laurent, recently named the 2011 're-forestation guru' by the Observer newspaper in the UK.

“Forests 2011” will be officially launched at the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Ninth Session, held from 24 January to 4 February in New York. At the event IUCN will announce new forest restoration initiatives of global importance as well as new findings on the economic value of forests.

Spokespeople:

Stewart Maginnis, IUCN’s Director of Environment and Development, stewart.maginnis@iucn.org
Stephen Kelleher, Deputy Head of IUCN’s Forest Conservation Programme, stephen.kelleher@iucn.org
Consuelo Espinosa, IUCN’s Senior Forests and Climate Change Officer, consuelo.espinosa@iucn.org
Carole Saint-Laurent, IUCN’s Senior Forest Policy Adviser, carsaintl@bellnet.ca

 

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

• Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 798574072, borjana.pervan@iucn.org
• Brian Thomson, IUCN Media Relations, t+41 797218326, brian.thomson@iucn.org
• Daniel Shaw, IUCN Forest Communications, t+41229990168, daniel.shaw@iucn.org

News/photos/audio/video material available at: www.iucn.org/iyf